Устойчивая механизация сельского хозяйства

В данном разделе приведена информация о рекомендациях и деятельности, связанных с растениеводством, уборкой урожая, послеуборочной обработкой и переработкой на ферме, применением пестицидов и ручного инструмента в случае возникновения чрезвычайных обстоятельств.

Productivity is a good indicator of the land conditions, since it directly reflects changes in the quality and limitations of the land. The main objective of soil management for agriculture is to create favourable conditions for good crop growth, seed germination, emergence of young plants, root growth, plant development, grain formation and harvest. Sustained productivity goes in hand with good management practices.

Crop production

Land preparation
Land preparation is the first operation in ensuring that crops can achieve the best yields. It is essential to provide plants with the best soil conditions for their development. A proper seedbed should be prepared with the right nutrients and conditions that can allow, first of all, seed sprouting and then the crop's establishment for its later development. Traditionally, this has been done with aggressive practices such as ploughing, slash and burning, etc. These practices are not only unsustainable in the long run, but they are labour intensive, especially in low mechanized contexts, and thus become a burden for small-scale farmers that have to prepare seed beds manually with basic tools.

FAO promotes alternative ways for land preparation, aiming to both reduce labour requirements and drudgery while at the same time trying to enhance the sustainability of land preparation activities. Reduced tillage and the use of adequate tools and equipment can contribute to this common goal.

The tasks of land preparation and weeding can be made less labour intensive through the use of improved hoes, row planting, draught animal powered rippers, harrows and planters. Single axle tractor equipment is a specific option that can be used if there are appropriate service-infrastructures and farmer capacities and when economic and social conditions permit it. Other tasks related maintaining soil cover and preparing the land can be done with weed wipes and adequate spraying technology which eliminate the task of weeding to a large extent. This should be done within reduced or minimum tillage systems, such as raised beds, and conservation agriculture.

Crop operations
Several operations determine a crop's performance, including seeding and weeding. Adequate seeding rates, spacing and placement are crucial for the development of the plant. This is also influenced by soil conditions and the cropping system. From manual broadcast seeding to precision pneumatic seeding, there is a wide range of tools and equipment that can improve seed operations in the specific socio economic and environmental context of farmers.

The combination of reduced tillage and direct seeding, when applying Conservation Agriculture principles, contributes to preserving soil conditions and enhancing seed placement. There are seeders and planters that can be used under reduced tillage conditions, such as manual hand planters, animal traction direct seeders, two wheel tractor seeders and planters (adapted to different crops), and four wheel tractor pulled and attached direct seeders (with many types of designs and levels of sophistication). Reduction of drudgery and timeliness are immediate benefits of using direct seeding, these create opportunities for higher yields and uses of manpower for smallholder farmers.

Weeding by hand using traditional hoes takes about 140 hours for one person to weed one hectare (which falls to 65 hours per hectare by the third weeding). Weeding is conducted at critical times to avoid the establishment of weeds and crop damage. Late weeding of previous crops is done to prevent setting of weed seeds. The use of adequate tools and equipment can help accomplish the task faster and with less manpower, improving the livelihood of farmers and increasing the time efficiency. There are two ways of controlling weeds: mechanically or chemically. For the mechanical option, the aim is to uproot the weeds. While for the chemical, the aim is to kill weeds using a selective chemical agent that usually is sprayed.